City Desk

Brazil Found Guilty of Assault

Former D.C. Councilmember Harold Brazil has been found guilty of misdemeanor assault stemming from a fracas at Georgetown tattoo parlor Jinx Proof last October. In reaching her bench verdict, D.C. Superior Court Judge Jennifer Anderson found that Brazil had initiated the fight, and that the various accounts of what happened thereafter are immaterial. "What happens after is neither here nor there," she said.

After declaring the guilty verdict, the judge asked Brazil for any comment he might have on the sentencing. "No lockup," Brazil said.

He got his wish. Anderson issued a 30-day suspended sentence and six months of unsupervised probation; also, Brazil must pay $100 to a victims compensation fund. He has 30 days to appeal.

At this point, Brazil doubtless wishes he hadn't chosen to hang out with his secretary and a friend on a nice fall evening. On Thursday, Oct. 9, Brazil and assistant Elena Mirsayapova, 30, joined 53-year-old Petra Nikolow for seafood at West End steakhouse Smith & Wollensky.

As the meal progressed, Nikolow, recently separated, persuaded her friends to join her as she got her first-ever tattoo. They wound up at Jinx Proof, right on Georgetown's M Street strip. Once inside, Nikolow signed the necessary paperwork—including a certification that she was not intoxicated—and paid cash for her tattoo, on her shoulder. She went to the ink booth in the back of the shop while Brazil and Mirsayapova waited on a bench out front.

The artist inking Nikolow started up his equipment—a buzzing sound that alarmed Mirsayapova, who walked back to check on her friend. That’s when counterman Francis “Tad” Peyton told her to get back out front, per store policy. Whether he did that in a polite or some other tone of voice, and how many times he did it, was debated at length in the trial.

Shortly after Peyton rebuked Mirsayapova, Brazil was engaged in a donnybrook with three Jinx Proof employees, a flare-up that ended with a visit from D.C. police. Who started it all? The judged found that Brazil had. In court testimony, Brazil's side argued that Peyton called Brazil a "nigger," a charge that Peyton denied and that was absent from police statements taken right after the incident.

After the verdict, Brazil went off about the whole thing. Saying that the federal prosecutors "had it out for me," Brazil, a former assistant U.S. attorney himself, was "flabbergasted" that the government would would pursue prosecution. "I'm really ashamed of them—that they wanted to spend taxpayer money on something as fatuous as this."

On a roll, Brazil said, "Not only can they indict a ham sandwich, they can convict a ham sandwich," in a nod to the famous saying about grand juries. And: "If you want to indict somebody, indict this criminal justice system that does this to people."

Reporting by Mike DeBonis

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